Friday, January 12, 2018

And The HIT Just Keeps on Coming

Obamacare imposes a "fee on insurance companies" for fully insured plans that is referred to as the HIT (Health Insurance Tax). Last year this tax was in a one year moratorium thanks to Congressional relief. But this year it is back in full effect.

The tax on health insurers is non-deductible, meaning for every $1.00 in taxes the insurer will need to take in $1.54 (assumes 35% corporate tax rate). For 2018, the amount this tax must generate is $14.3 billion - meaning insurers must generate $22 billion of additional premiums to pay for it. Insurers have to pay their portion based off of market share so the larger presence they have the greater the amount they have to charge. This also makes it a moving target from year to year.

The tax applies to all fully insured coverage including:
  • Individual On Exchange
  • Individual Off Exchange
  • Small Group Fully Insured - Both ACA and Pre ACA
  • Large Group Fully Insured - Both ACA and Pre ACA
  • Medicare Advantage
  • Medicare Part D
  • Medicaid Managed Care

To offer transparency, many insurers are breaking out these taxes on renewals for consumers to see. But, for most employer plans - where a large amount of this revenue is generated - this tax isn't transparent to employees.

Employers offer a total compensation package to employees. Wages and benefits are the biggest drivers of what makes up an employee's compensation. The HIT hurts employee wages and benefits while providing zero value to the business.

How bad does the HIT hurt employers? For my clients it's extremely painful. Reviewing my January 2018 renewals I found the average cost per employee is $356.50. That doesn't seem like much right?Until we do the math and show that this tax averages a cost of $0.17 per hour.

This puts an employer in a tough position. Do they give a $0.25 an hour raise but increase premium contributions by $0.17 an hour? Do they cut benefits by $0.17 an hour? Or, do they decline to expand, cut overtime, or reduce staff to pay the tax? These are tough decisions employers have to make that are all done behind the scenes.

Employees see these decisions to increase the amount deducted from their paychecks, higher deductibles, higher copays, more restrictive provider networks, and higher prescription costs as if the employer or the insurer is screwing them.

The reality is Obamacare's HIT is causing the problem. It's been screwing employees since 2014 and every year it will get worse.

The next time someone says Obamacare doesn't impact employer sponsored insurance remember the HIT. It's the sucker punch that keeps on coming.
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